Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Traveling With Dogs

I want to welcome guest blogger and travel expert, Kendra Thornton. She invited me to contribute to a piece on traveling with pets. Kendra's first up with some AWESOME tips: 

Your Pets Should Enjoy Vacations Too

Some people find it stressful to take their pets on vacation. I used to feel this way, but now I’m so accustomed to it that it’s just normal for me. We always take our family dog wherever we go and I’ve figured out a number of ways to keep her as comfortable as possible. I’m going to be sharing some of my secrets for doing this with my extended family, which will be visiting us in Chicago next month with their own dog. I thought I’d share these suggestions with you as well, as I know lots of people travel with their pets.

If you can avoid it at all, don’t fly with your dog. Depending on the airline’s policy, the dog might end up in cargo hold. Either way, it’s likely to be traumatic for the dog. I prefer to take the extra time and drive. There are, however, certain situations when you simply must fly with your dog. If this is the case with you, I suggest looking up all guidelines for traveling with pets.

Hotels vary a great deal when it comes to being pet friendly. I always thoroughly research this point before booking a hotel room. I try to find hotels that are welcoming to visitors with pets. I’ve even stayed at hotels that provide a breakfast for dogs, which really shows that they have a positive outlook regarding pets! If necessary, call the hotel and find out what kind of facilities they offer. It’s also good to know that there are parks or other suitable places for walking dogs near the hotel.  A number of hotels within the city limits of Chicago offer great accommodations for pets and families while also being close to all the sites.

Boats and water in general can be fun for both humans and dogs, but dangerous as well, even a dog that’s a good swimmer can get tired and drown. That’s why I always bring a flotation vest for our dog if we’re going to be anywhere near water. This is important for all dogs, but even more so if the dog is not comfortable around water or has any type of medical problem. This kind of precaution could save your dog’s life, so don’t overlook it.

One thing I did for our dog several years ago was get her micro chipped. This lets me know that if she ever does escape or get lost that we can track her. This is a painless process that should be done by all dog owners, especially if you travel frequently. I also prepare for our trips by taking the dog to the vet and making sure she’s up to date on all vaccinations. These precautions put my mind at rest and make me feel more comfortable about traveling with our dog.

I do everything I can to make our dog feel at home while we’re traveling. I’ve found that keeping a familiar schedule when it comes to walks and meals goes a long way in helping her feel safe. Animals thrive on routines, so if you can maintain your normal routine as much as possible, they won’t feel out of sorts when you take them along on trips.

Kendra Thornton has been packing her bags and traveling the world since she visited the Bahamas at 3 months old. She comes from a family of travel agents and founded Thornton Public Relations LLC in April 2005 in an effort to bring strategic and low cost public relations to start-up and established travel, consumer and technology companies. Ms. Thornton also appears regularly as a travel expert on ABC, CBS, NBC and CW affiliates across the country to share travel trends, tips and deals with millions of viewers every year. 

You can follow her on Twitter: @KendraThornton
Her website: http://www.thorntonpr.com/
THANKS, Kendra!

And here's my contribution:

Making Travel Stress-Free With Your Dogs
Make your visit as stress-free on your dog and the other people you will be interacting with. You know your dog best and what can be a source of distress. Some dogs are adventurous and can bound out of a strange, open door and not look back. “See ya! Going to explore the neighborhood!” Others will be timid in a new environment. You want to take precautions for both situations.

When considering traveling with dogs, think about their temperaments and how well they handle strange environments:

·         Do they tolerate children or babies?
·         Are they OK around lots of people?
·         Do sudden noises or movement affect them?
·         Do they get along with other dogs, cats, and pets?
·         Are they sofa-chewers or trash-eaters or counter surfers?

Then think about the people you’ll be visiting:

·         Are they “dog people” or are they barely tolerant as long as your dog doesn’t smell, shed, drool or make noise? Something helpful to have in consideration of non-dog hosts is a lint roller. I keep one in the car.

·         Do they have their own animals and will those animals be polite to your dogs?

·         Do they know that there are certain plants, medications and foods that are poisonous to dogs?  Years ago, I came into my living room to discover an empty, spit-covered bag on the carpet. It had been a bag of chocolates that an out-of-town guest had left on the coffee table. Luckily, it was milk chocolate and not many were left in the bag, so it didn’t kill my 145 pound dog. Non-dog people--and even people you think should know that chocolate is poisonous to dogs, often don’t.  Just as you would child-proof a new environment, you want to dog-proof it as well.

Be aware that just as humans can get tired, dogs do, too. While they might be happy to interact with children in the morning, an all-day of constant activity might be too much. Make sure that they can have their down time, too.

Something that provides security for your dog is to bring along the familiar. This includes favourite toys, blankies, food and water bowls, treats, and beds. If your dog is crate-trained, all the better. Crates can be an inflammatory topic for some pet guardians. Dogs, like their wolf-ancestors, are den animals; a crate is a version of a den. The advantages are that crates are helpful with house training and in containing a dog who is recovering from surgery. In addition, they keep your dog contained and safe while traveling in a car. I used to travel every weekend with my dogs. One hot summer day, I needed to have a meeting on the way to my destination. I brought both dogs in and set them up in the meeting room with me, where they sat quietly in their crates. While they were in a new environment with strange people they didn’t know, they were also safe in their own territory.

While there are those who will argue that dens don’t have locked doors on them, crates are a way to keep your dog safe in a new environment—and if they are not good around other people, children or pets, it keeps everyone else safe, too. Crates can also provide a sense of security for friends or family members who might be afraid of your dogs or who would prefer to keep them contained. Dogs can get chewy when stressed in new situations. A crate will prevent coming home to a disemboweled sofa or trash strewn around the house.  A crate should never be used as punishment or to house a dog in its crate for the majority of the time. If your dog is not crate-trained, just make sure you set up his bed in a quiet corner where he can feel secure in “his domain.”

If you’re staying in a hotel, make sure housekeeping staff know you have a dog in your room. While I’m sure the front desk alerts housekeeping, you can remove all doubt by putting a note on the door. If your dog is in a crate, that is helpful to staff, as well. Taking these precautions helps to keep Houdini from escaping!

With 4th of July just around the corner, be aware that it is the biggest day for lost dogs in the year. Well-meaning but unknowing people bring their dogs to watch fireworks. Your dog doesn’t want to watch fireworks. Your dog will most likely be frightened of all the noise and bolt. So do your dog and yourself a favour, and leave Sparky safe at home.

In the event that Fido does get lost, in addition to micro-chipping your dog, make sure to have current information on the dog tag:

"Help me, I'm lost! Please call: (area code) 555-1212” 

Include your address and make sure your cell number is on there. Another option is to have a GPS tracker where you can find out where your dog is in real time. There are several kinds on the market. You may want to call the local animal warden and shelters, as well. Many are on Facebook, so you can upload an alert for your lost dog.

Just as you would bring your own medications while you travel, make sure to include your dogs’ as well. I use homeopathic remedies with my dogs. Nux vomica and Lycopodium are helpful for car sickness. One of my dogs is deathly afraid of thunderstorms and loud noises. She wears her Thundershirt and I give her Storm Stress, a homeopathic remedy. Both of these can be helpful if your dog is anxious for any reason. When traveling long distances in a car, stop for breaks and make sure your dogs have water. Having dog-friendly wipes and paper towels for clean-ups is helpful, too.

All of these will help your traveling go smoothly for you and your dogs.

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